The Benefits Of Being In Community

Photo: ‘Color Birdbath with Flowers’ – Copyright 2019 Frank J Casella: A red and yellow bird bath with purple flowers. and peeling paint.

When I saw this birdbath today, I not only noticed the textures and colors, but also thought about how birds are in community. A birdbath is like the community swimming pool. If you will.

With social media relevant today, why does it seem so many people say they are lonely? It is because our bodies are designed to have interaction with each other, to laugh with and touch each other. The power if a smile is priceless. Yet, there is so much of our society that works towards individualism, pulling us apart.

For example at my church here in America are a number of interest groups, like for youth, or scripture study, or expectant mothers, yet when we worship it is everyone together in community.

If you are into newsletters and mailing lists like I am, you are aware that you can now segment your subscribers into category lists. However, with the mailing lists that I manage, I keep everyone together in community. So that means I have separate categories in one email, and everyone gets (sent) it, they just look at the sections of the newsletter that interests them.

I think that community is where we grow by learning from each other. When we share our differences with each other we learn more (or ask questions) about ourselves. So to pull this all together, the birdbath is a symbol of nature, that God created birds to bath themselves not only to be clean but to have community … there is much in nature us humans can learn from.

Every Life Has A Story

Fog covers city skyscrapers down Michigan Avenue during the morning commute in Chicago Illinois.
Photo: ‘Chicago City Fog’ – Square Color Photo Copyright 2016 Frank J Casella – Fog covers city skyscrapers down Michigan Avenue during the morning commute in Chicago Illinois.

When I look at all the people in the world, I not only see them as a person, but see the story of their lives.

Because it is about stories that make us the people who we are.

I believe that integrity is the main element that we measure each other.

Integrity
n. Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.
n. The state of being unimpaired; soundness.
n. The quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness.

*From The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

Integrity helps us to evaluate our own life, and get a better look at the impact that we are having on this world.

The more you are grateful for what you have, the more you will have to be grateful for.

Zig Ziglar

Stop and take a good look at your life. Are you where you are meant to be?

Are you doing the right thing?

Are you on the best track for you?

Every life – every person – has a story.

What is your story?

The Online Meeting Axiom

Photo: ‘Searching for Dawn‘ Copyright 2016 Frank J Casella – The morning sun peeks through the trees behind a fence.

In the past year that the COVID pandemic has spread around the world, online conference video chats have become more the norm than the exception they were. And all of these platforms it seems have had to make improvements to their technology to meet the demand.

Yet, some of them have become more popular than others even though they may not be the best. For example, the first two on the scene years ago were FreeConferenceCall in 2001 and Skype in 2003, which I use more than the others. I usually can’t have a call without someone asking why we’re not on Zoom or Teams, etc.

I get it, the quality axiom is at work here: ‘Kleenex’ means tissues, ‘Weber’ means grills, ‘Google’ means search engine, and so on … so now does Zoom mean online video meeting? The other argument is to use the platform that everyone is familiar with so it is easier to use. The answer to this one is the more you use something, the more you become familiar with it.

The truth I see is that, in searching for the light, all of these platforms work the same and have similar issues, and the variables happen based on what equipment or internet connection you have. So you find two of them that best meet your needs and make it work for you.

Because, just like with soda pop I like ‘RC’, even though ‘Coke’ or ‘Pepsi’ are more popular doesn’t mean they are the best.

The Best Use of Our Time

Photo: ‘Silence From The Sky’ Copyright 2018 Frank J Casella

Sometimes photography will see elements in the sky that the human eye does not.

Sometimes reflections in the water see elements in the sky that photography does not.

Sometimes the silent moments help us to reflect life more clearly.

Many people tell me how much they are afraid of silence. I have been there too at times. We busy ourselves just to avoid the silence in our lives. Yet, silence is really the best use of our time.

It is where we find the answers to our problems, our dreams, our true needs, and ourselves. It could be ten minutes, or a few hours, but spending time in silent thought has shown our true selves come to the surface through all the noise, and help us to become our best self.

Yes, you sometimes have to work through the ugliness to see light, yet it is through our struggles that we become stronger in finding our true self. This is why I find scheduling in my calendar silent time each day can be best use of my time … and yours.

There is a common lesson to spend one hour a day in silence, for sixty days. Many people in the end find the results mind blowing … pun intended. Give it a try, one day at a time.

Don’t be afraid of silence. FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real

I Want to be Free

Photo: ‘Freedom in the Wetlands Brush – Silver‘ Copyright 2021 Frank J Casella

It seems just about everywhere you look these days people are saying they want to be free, or they want their freedoms. But, I’m wondering if everyone has the same meaning of what freedom is?

Freedom
n. The condition of not being in prison or captivity.
n. The condition of being free of restraints, especially the ability to act without control or interference by another or by circumstance.
(From The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language)

For example, my parents raised me and my siblings with the idea that every person has a right to their opinion, but they do not have a right to their own facts, or truth.

Freedom has a connection to truth, just like rules determine freedoms. In other words, when we treat others with respect then they in turn would treat us with respect. On the other hand, if we feel the freedom to treat others without respect we’re not going to get as far as if we used kindness.

I get it, sometimes we just want to go off the usual path and do something we are not allowed, or experience something because we can, but not because we should or that it is the right thing to do. I believe there is a time for everything when put into right perspective.

Integrity gives you real freedom because you have nothing to fear since you have nothing to hide.

Zig Ziglar

If you do what you need to do when you need to do it, then the day will come when you can do what you want to do when you want to do it.

Zog Ziglar

True freedom is not advanced in the permissive society, which confuses freedom with license to do anything whatever and which in the name of freedom proclaims a kind of general amorality. It is a caricature of freedom to claim that people are free to organize their lives with no reference to moral values, and to say that society does not have to ensure the protection and advancement of ethical values. Such an attitude is destructive of freedom and peace.

Saint John Paul II

Forgiveness and Obedience

Photo: ‘Where Have You Been‘ Copyright 2016 Frank J CasellaThe moon hides behind the clouds of the morning sky in the forest.

I think these words are both simple yet profound, because they are easy to understand and agree with, yet not so easy to live:

Forgiveness is releasing the other person from the debt that they owe you. Forgiveness does not mean that what they did was permissible. It does not mean that you must be their best friend. It does not mean that you even must address the person directly. Forgiveness is freeing your heart to live and love in the measure God created you.

Obedience can have a negative connotation in our culture today because everyone wants to be “free”. We interpret freedom as doing what we want to do. In the spiritual life, freedom comes when we are obedient to God’s will. Obedience comes from a Latin word which means “to listen”. When we listen to God’s voice and are obedient to Him, we find true freedom … Sin can be defined as “I want what I want right now.” Holiness can be defined as “I want what God wants when He wants it.” Obedience to God leads to holiness, which in turn leads to happiness, which we all seek.

Our lives are a work in progress.

Kindness

Photo: ‘Tenderness‘ Copyright 2014 Frank J Casella

Many times we, including myself, tend to judge people based on how we see a situation before or without being fully educated about the matter or understanding fully the people involved.

When people hurt us with their words or actions, especially family members or co-workers for example, or people we spend a lot of time with, we tend to take it personally.

I have found that many times what is important is how we respond rather than how we react. In other words, to be always forgiving with kindness to others, even when they are not kind to us, brings many dividends in the long term.

Like the unconditional love of a dog. The more you lead them with love, the more they love back. It’s about who is at the end of the leach.

Likewise, kindness doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be truthful or matter of fact, rather the words we use and how we present the information, putting others before ourselves, makes all the difference. Because we are all a work in progress and need each other to make it in life.

I’m sure you’ve heard the words to not judge others unless you want to be judged. I tend to favor The Golden Rule of treat others the way that you want to be treated.

Always try to see people as God sees them, and don’t be so quick to judge.

Life is short. Let’s be kind.

Email is the Original Social Media

Photo: ‘Rooftop Winter Sunset – Impressionism‘ Copyright 2021 Frank J Casella

With my last blog post, I talked about how using blogs and MeWe are an alternative to the big tech option of information suppression social media. This post I would like to add how Email is the original social media, and I make the argument how you could not have a world without Email.

Before blogs and social media, Email was used as early as 1972 and rapidly grew in popularity as computers became a common feature for consumers. Many of us, and I still do today, had several groups set up in our Email contacts who we share thread discussions back and forth. From this came the Email list providers, which allow us to broadcast our messages usually outbound, however the subscribers can reply privately if they choose to. And when I communicate to bloggers, we often are using Email to discuss truly important things that we wouldn’t say in public – or make plans – as not everything is in public.

Ask yourself how many times a day you check your Email account. Now compare that to the number of times you check your social networking account. With Email, you build a permission-based list of people that want to hear from you. Isn’t that what all of us do on a social media network (with a little difference in permissions, depending on what service we’re using).

Not only can Email be more secure when used properly, with social media your messages could pass by too quickly and disappear, or be suppressed, into the news feed before you even notice (this can now happen to your inbox unless you have the right webmail service). With Email, readers have to either open or delete the Email, and can save items in their inbox for further action, giving your emailed message more impact. Email may not have the buzz, but it still has a lot of power.

People also make the mistake that Facebook is the largest social network to date, in reality, the largest social networks are Email. That is if you agree if Facebook, as a private community of your friends, is a social network, then so is email. They both have the same requirements:

1) profiles (emails have signatures),
2) Ability to connect to each other (the act of Emailing, and often responding,
3) Do something useful (Email users share information, and sometimes collaborate).

Finally, Email is still a highly important mode of communication, while we often complain about keeping the inbox clean, research indicates people still trust Emails from friends and people they know – this will only continue as the Email address becomes more valuable than the phone number or street address.

Vivaldi